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Living the Man Booker

Living the Man Booker

There are some aficionados whose adherence to the Man Booker Prize knows no bounds. So they might be interested to know that the opportunity has arisen to live in a bit of the prize's history. Tom Maschler, the publisher behind, among others, Ian McEwan and Julian Barnes, was one of the founders of the prize and has now retired to live in France. His rather swanky Kensington apartment is now on the market. The price for this piece of literary history is, ahem, £3.2 million.


You might not think that an American women's correctional facility and Marcel Proust have much in common but, according to Rachel Kushner, Man Booker shortlisted for her jail novel The Mars Room, the effete Frenchman with a penchant for madeleines was on her mind as she delved into the world of strip clubs, murder, jail, dirty cops and brutalised inmates: “Maybe Proust changed something about the way I write, even if I don’t write like he does – at all. Something about a commitment to the full complexity of a thought, the way he takes his time to be precise.”


Two Man Booker writers have just made the five-novel shortlist for Canada's premier literary award, the Scotiabank Giller Prize, which carries a $100,000 sweetener. Esi Edugyan, a shortlistee for this year's Man Booker and a former Scotiabank Giller winner (in 2011) gets the nod for Washington Black and Patrick deWitt, Man Booker shortlisted in 2011 for The Sisters Brothers, is there courtesy of French Exit. Two nominations are not, however, enough for Edugyan: she has also been tipped the wink for the $50,000 Rogers Writers’ Trust prize. It must be consoling/exciting for her to know that the winner will be announced on 7 November and the SG winner on 19 November, little more than a month after the Man Booker itself. Her autumn promises to be an exciting and possibly remunerative one.


Meanwhile Guy Gunaratne's Man Booker 2018 longlisted In Our Mad and Furious City and Robin Robertson's shortlisted The Long Take have both been shortlisted for the £10,000 Goldsmiths-New Statesman Prize for experimental writing, revealed on 14 November. With all these ceremonies to go to, it's amazing some authors find the time to write.


Man Booker writers feature too on the just-revealed list of the nation's bookshops “best books of 2018”. Despite the timing being somewhat curious in that the announcement comes only a day after “Super Thursday”, that moment of madness in the publishing calendar when (this year) 5,000 new titles were published, the “Novel” category features Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie (Man Booker shortlisted last year) and the “Breakthrough author” section includes Sophie Mackintosh The Water Cure (longlisted this year). For good measure, a former Man Booker winner, Penelope Lively, is included in the “Beautiful book” category for her Life in the Garden. Should you feel like voting for your particular favourite – and, who knows, you might – you can have your voice heard here.


As the clock ticks down towards the big Man Booker reveal on 16 October, the shortlisted authors begin to gather and they can be seen in the flesh at various events over the next few days. The literary stars will be in Sheffield on 12 October, Cheltenham on the 13th, and the Southbank Centre in London on the 14th, hosted by Damian Barr.